Thursday, September 19, 2013

Postpartum Recovery: Diastasis Recti (ab separation)

Oh how I love my boys! But oh how they have destroyed their mama's body! Before I got pregnant with my first child my stomach was one of the best things about my body. I'm pretty curvy, but I always managed to have an effortlessly flat tummy. Then I got pregnant and I stopped holding my stomach in because for some reason I figured the baby needed the room. And I thought not worrying about your waistline was one of the perks of pregnancy. WRONG! I should have kept holding my tummy in because I think it's one reason why I've had diastasis recti with each of my pregnancies.

Whether you just had a baby or you had one over 20 years ago, diastasis recti may be an issue your body is dealing with. So, what is it? It happens when the two sides of your abs separate to make room for your baby. Its pretty common. After your baby comes out the connective tissue between your abs is weakened and your internal organs rest on that connective tissue instead of on your muscles. This produces a bulge that will not go away no matter how much you diet or exercise. Exercises like crunches can even aggravate the problem. This is also why women seem to show earlier with every subsequent pregnancy.

After my second pregnancy, I noticed that my tummy was pretty jacked up so naturally I was doing crunches and all the other ab exercises you're not supposed to do if you have this particular problem. I had never heard about diastasis recti but I  ended up coming across a video on youtube that explained the problem and how to check to see if I had a separation. I started doing several exercises to help bring my abs back together but before I was completely healed I got pregnant again with our third little boy.

I gave birth to our third son in June of 2013. When I went in for my six week postpartum appointment my midwife didn't even have to check me for a diastasis. When I laid back on the table she said she could see it and that it was pretty severe. She gave me a six-week program to bring it back together. Its called the Tupler Technique, a four step program involving exercises, splinting, using your transverse during everyday activities, and getting up and down correctly.

I started this program about 3 weeks ago without the splint and I've lost an inch around my waist. After seeing such an improvement I was skeptical about using the splint. But I got my splint on Monday and after wearing it the first night I saw a huge difference in the top of my abs (above is a picture of my splinted abs). Before I started doing the exercises I was experiencing uncomfortable back pain and even some abdominal discomfort. I haven't had any of this pain for about a week now. I have also had a decreased appetite. We'll see how this goes... If you've got a mummy tummy check to see if you have diastasis! I'll post an update in 6 weeks and let you know my results.

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